MCSOS announces award winners
For The Madera Tribune
Countywide Excellence in Education winners, from left, Danny Floriano, Chowchilla Union High School District, Employee of the Year; Jacklyn Jones, Madera County Superintendent of Schools, Administrator of the Year; Jenny Mejia, Madera County Superintendent of Schools, Teacher of the Year, receive their awards at an awards ceremony on September 29.
The Madera County Excellence in Education award ceremony honored employees, administrators, and teachers in an annual ceremony.
This year marked the 16th annual event sponsored by the Educational Employees Credit Union and the Madera County Superintendent of Schools on September 29.
2022 Classified Employee of the Year
Danny Floriano, Lead Groundskeeper — Chowchilla Union High School, Chowchilla Union High School District
Danny Floriano has worked with Chowchilla Union High School District for five years. Superintendent Miller commented, “Danny is the key to our success in the grounds department,” Chowchilla Superintendent Justin Miller said. “His strong character and high work ethic are examples of what makes Mr. Floriano a great leader. He understands that recognizing the work of others, no matter their position, is important to building a strong team. His coworkers noted that Mr. Floriano has made work feel like a family unit. Mr. Floriano takes pride in his work, which is evident from the appearance of the grounds. He is a master problem solver. When issues have arisen on campus, Mr. Floriano has devised solutions which have made work easier for staff and have prevented injuries. During COVID, he insured the safety of students and staff with additional sanitizing measures and by delivering personal protective equipment where needed. Mr. Floriano regularly goes above and beyond. When there was a shortage of bus drivers, he volunteered to transport students in vans. Mr. Floriano does things like this, not for recognition, but because it is the right thing to do.”
“I hope that I am a good role model for my fellow employees and that I make a positive impact on others… I have always been one to lead by example… I can truly say, I love my job. I enjoy serving the students, staff, and community of Chowchilla,” Floriano said.
2022 Employee of the Year Finalists:
• Karina Martinez, School Safety Officer — Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Madera Unified School District
• Maria Belen Martinez Campos, Health Aide — Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District
• Jessica Melgoza, Senior Secretary — Madera County Superintendent of Schools
• Sharon Mello, Human Resource Technician III — Chawanakee Unified School District
• Tanya Rosa, Site Secretary — Liberty High School, Golden Valley Unified School District
2022 Administrator of the Year
Jacklyn Jones, Program Director, Early Learning Programs — Madera County Superintendent of Schools
Jacklyn Jones has served the students in Madera County for 20 years. In high school, she taught swim lessons to preschool children and knew then that her career would involve this age group.
“I wanted to play a significant role in helping children discover their love for learning by providing a positive first experience in the classroom,” Jones said.
In the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, Ms. Jones gets to do that for more than 300 families. Days are filled with social emotional support, art experiences, mathematics, reading, science, phonological awareness, language modeling, imagination, creativity, and play.
“The best indicator that we operate a successful program is hearing children beg their parents to stay ‘just five more minutes!’ because they don’t want to leave school,” Jones said.
Ensuring families have access to high quality early childhood experiences is important to Ms. Jones. During the pandemic, ECE continued in-person instruction, providing childcare and educational programs to the children of essential workers. Ms. Jones does what is best for children and it shows in the four and five-star (the highest) ratings received from Quality Rating and Improvement System. She has partnered with agencies such as Camarena Health for dental visits and First 5 for vision screenings and access to eye glasses.
“I feel an enormous responsibility to ECE families. I know (these programs) will make a great impact on our community’s youngest learners,” she said.
2022 Administrator of the Year Finalists:
• Lisa De La Pena, Principal — John J. Pershing Elementary, Madera Unified School District
• Karen Higginbotham, Coordinator of Health Services/School Nurse — Golden Valley Unified School District
• Rachelle Lee, School Psychologist — Chawanakee Unified School District
• Maria Plascencia, School Counselor/School Psychologist — Wilson Middle School, Chowchilla Elementary School District
• Maggie Yamasaki, Director of Business Services — Chowchilla Union High School District
2022 Teacher of the Year
Jenny Mejia, SDC Teacher Moderate/Severe — Madera South High School, Madera County Superintendent of Schools
Jenny Mejia has been a Special Day Class Teacher for students with moderate to severe disabilities for five years with Madera County Superintendent of Schools. She has found it essential to build strong relationships with her students to understand how they learn.
Teaching them skills to improve their independence is one of her main goals. Ms. Mejia was one of the first teachers who volunteered to return to in-person instruction. She realized the importance of hands-on instruction and found ways to continue teaching life skills while the world was shut down during the pandemic.
She created the Stallion Brew, a coffee house run out of her classroom where students learn to follow recipes, exercise good hygiene, practice math skills (measurements and handling money), and engage with their customers.
Ms. Mejia is adamant, “Our kids are capable… They are definitely hard workers.”
She collaborates with community businesses to facilitate work-based learning. Ms. Mejia has a community based mindset. She volunteers in a number of Madera projects: food drives, backpacks for kids, Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, etc. She has extended that mindset to her classroom getting her students involved in things like the Christmas Parade.
She also encourages her students to participate in traditional high school sporting events, including track and field, basketball, and soccer.
“She is determined to show families the potential of their student’s abilities,” said parent Chelsea Dell.
2022 Teacher of the Year Finalists:
• Melissa Cottington, Teacher, 4th grade — North Fork School, Chawanakee Unified School District
• Sherisse DeOrian, Teacher, 2nd grade — Lincoln Elementary School, Madera Unified School District
• Allison Medeles, Elementary Teacher — Stone Creek Elementary School, Golden Valley Unified School District
• Brenna Neely, Teacher — Ahwahnee High School, Yosemite Unified School District
• Jacqueline Ross, Teacher, 1st Grade — Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District
“We are fortunate to partner with EECU, an organization whose dedication to our schools is genuine and whose helping hands are felt in many ways,” said Cecilia A. Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “We celebrate the accomplishments of educators and instructional staff from throughout Madera County who make a difference daily. We showcase our honorees and the many contributions they have made to enhance the lives of our children. Our honorees are often ‘unsung heroes.’ We shine a light on their achievements and see how they inspire and teach students.”
“Congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists and winners. The work they do every day deserves to be recognized and celebrated,” said Elizabeth J. Dooley, President & CEO, Educational Employees Credit Union. “They are all very deserving of this special recognition of their commitment and dedication to their students, their schools, and their community, and for all they do to support students and help them realize their academic potential.”